Builders of Wooden Railway Cars ... and some of other stuff

Southern Car & Foundry

Elliott Car Company
Lenoir City Car Company
Memphis Car & Foundry Company

Southern Car & Foundry was organized in 1899 as a New Jersey Corporation, consolidating the Elliott Car Company of Gadsden, Alabama, the Memphis Car Company of Memphis, Tennessee, and the Lenoir City Car Company of Lenoir City, Tennessee. These three companies were said to “control all the car works in the South except one at Anniston, Alabama (United States Car Company).

The stated purpose of the consolidation was “to fight the newly formed Car Trust [probably meaning American Car & Foundry] and keep the price of car building at an equitable figure.” {96}

J.M. Elliott Jr. of Gadsden was elected President and R.G. Roberts of Lenoir City was elected Vice President. Capital stock was $2,000,000. At its organization the three plants had a capacity of 40 coal and freight cars daily, and plans were underway to expand them immediately and begin production of passenger cars. {96}

It appears the new company experienced growing pains, because by the end of 1900, the Memphis plant was running at less than full blast and rumors were circulating that it would be dismantled and moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Those rumors were set to rest when the plant resumed operation “with a full force of hands” in early 1901. {94}

A new plant was nevertheless begun at Ensley, Alabama, near Birmingham, later that year. This plant would be set up specifically to build pressed steel cars, and was expected to have a payroll of $50,000 [per what period not specified]. {95}

What went wrong we don’t know, but by 1906 Southern was in bankruptcy. In that year Thomas G. Bush, Thomas A. Gillispie, and Orion L. Hurlbut, as Trustees in Bankruptcy of the Southern Car & Foundry Company, were granted, on appeal, the right to pursue their case against J. M. Elliott, Jr. and the Elliott Car Company for monies Elliott allegedly owed Southern. {100}

We suspect the specific year was of bankruptcy was 1904, for in October 1904 the Southern Railway acquired the entire capital stock of the Lenoir Car Works. Freight, work and service equipment would be built and repaired there until at least 1955, and outside contracts were accepted. {129}

And at about the same time, the American Car & Foundry Company acquired the remainder of Southern Car & Foundry.

The Elliott Car Company appears to have been founded about 1887 at Gadsden, Alabama, by one J.M. Elliott.

(1893 edition, Poor’s Directory of Railway Officials)

It was acquired in 1899 by the Southern Car & Foundry Company.

That, unfortunately, is all we know at this time.

The Lenoir Car Works was founded at Lenoir City, Tennessee, sometime before 1895.

(1895 edition, Poor’s Guide to Railway Officials)

It is known to have built hopper-bottom gondolas for the Southern Railway in 1896. {97}

It was acquired in 1899 by the Southern Car & Foundry Company.

The entire capital stock of the company was acquired 6 October 1904 by the Southern Railway. It was owned by them and in business at least as late as 1955 producing and repairing freight, work and service equipment for the Southern and accepting outside contracts.

One authority says it built freight cars until 1930, and was still making journal bearings for freight cars in the 1960s.

The Memphis Car & Foundry Company was in business at least as far back as 1894, as it is known to have built several 5,000 gallon steel tank cars to haul molasses and glucose for a Memphis sugar refiner. {98}

It was acquired in 1899 by the Southern Car & Foundry Company.

11 April 2006

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